BEST PLACE TO CROSS-COUNTRY SKI (URBAN) (1999)

While there's nothing particularly surprising about the 26 kilometers of track that wends its way through this historic site, there is a lot to be said for the serenity to be found so near two bustling downtowns and an international airport. A perfect place for novice skiers and fans of moonlight striding, Fort Snelling's grounds offer up gentle terrain that runs through forests filled with cottonwood, silver maple, and elm, and alongside the mighty confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. Of particular note is the Mendota Trail, which journeys through a wildlife sanctuary and the quad-pounding Minnehaha Trail that follows an old railroad grade. The Pike Island Trail is a must for families, with its interpretive center that features exhibits dedicated to the park's ecosystem. Skiers and skaters in search of conditioning tracks may want to pass by Fort Snelling and head south toward the Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve in Savage, where the steep hills and hairpin turns are definitely not for the faint of heart.

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